March held in Taipei to mark Tibet National Uprising Day

2018 Tibetan Uprising Day march

2018 Tibetan Uprising Day march (CNA photo)

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Over 100 people, including dozens of Tibetans, took part in a march in Taipei on Saturday to mark the 59th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day, calling for more religious freedom and cultural preservation in Tibet.

Holding placards that read "Tibet belongs to Tibetans" and chanting "The Dalai Lama wants to return home. We want to return home," participants marched from Exit 2 of the Taipei Metro Zhongxiao Fuxing Station to Xinyi Plaza near the Taipei 101 skyscraper.

They made a stop at National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, where several participants prostrated themselves on the ground -- a Tibetan praying technique -- to remind the world that more than 150 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest Chinese repression.

"We want religious freedom. We want cultural freedom. We want the freedom to protect our environment. This is the main purpose of our march today," Tenzin Namdak, secretary-general of the Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association, said before the march. Tashi Tsering, head of the association and chairperson of the Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, told CNA that exiled Tibetans have never given up hope of returning to their homeland and of seeing the return of the Dalai Lama.

He said it is important to preserve the culture and religion of Tibet and allow the Dalai Lama to return because "we want to return to the original Tibet, the unscathed Tibet, not the suppressed Tibet that it is today."

He called on Chinese people to support Tibetans, saying the imprisonment and death of Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo and the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 show that the Communist Party of China suppresses Han people as well.

"We should unite and work together," he said.

Kel Sang, a Tibetan who participated in the march, said China may have a powerful military, but he is optimistic that Tibetans will eventually win the fight against suppression because "truth is on the side of Tibet" and because Chinese people are increasingly aware of their own rights and freedom.

"China is more open now and people's ideas have changed," said Kel Sang, who has lived in Taiwan for 15 years.

In the past, incidents occurring in Tibet may not have been discovered by the outside world until a year later, but nowadays, news travels quickly and information is shared almost immediately, he said.

It is the 15th year that a rally has been held in Taiwan to mark Tibetan National Uprising Day, which is observed on March 10 to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan rebellion against Chinese rule.

The rebellion triggered a Chinese military crackdown in Tibet that forced the Dalai Lama and hundreds of thousands of Tibetans into exile. (By Christie Chen)